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How can you constructively possess drugs?

At Green & Delan LLC in Atlanta, we know that when you face drug possession charges, your life becomes very complicated very quickly. Depending on which drug(s) law enforcement officials allege you possessed, how much of it, and your purpose in possessing it or them, your freedom could be at stake and you will, at the very least, pay a high monetary fine if convicted.

Obviously in order to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed drugs, the prosecutor must establish that you did indeed possess them. This is relatively easy if officers found the drugs on your person. However, if they found the drugs in a place to which other people had access, convicting you becomes much more difficult.

Constructive possession

As FindLaw explains, the doctrine of constructive possession holds that you possessed the drugs if you owned and/or controlled them. Constructive possession can only be proved by circumstantial evidence. In other words, what factors about where officers found the drugs would lead a judge and/or jury to infer beyond a reasonable doubt that you controlled them? Conversely, what reasonable doubt can your criminal defense attorney raise in the minds of the judge and/or jury as to your ownership and control?

The evidence

Each constructive possession case is fact-specific. Nevertheless, one of the most common ways in which it arises is when officers find drugs in your car’s console or “stashed” between the seats when they pull you and your passengers over. Here the most relevant fact is whether or not your console was locked.

If the officers found the drugs in your car’s locked console and you were the only person with a key, this is sufficient to prove that you constructively possessed them. If, however, the officers found the drugs in your car's unlocked console, the prosecutor cannot prove that you constructively owned or controlled them. Why? Because any of your passengers could have put them there just as easily as you. The same holds true if the officers found the drugs hidden between your car's seats. Again, there is no way to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you, rather than one of your passengers, put them there. Consequently, the jury must acquit you at trial, or more likely, the prosecutor will drop the charges against you prior to trial.

For more information on this subject, please visit this page on our website. 


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